Grand Theft Auto V PS4 Review

Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar Games

When is a remastered game more than just a technical upgrade? When it contains enough new additions, whether visual or gameplay, to truly alter the gameplay itself. There may be no better-looking game you could buy for your PS4 than “The Last of Us: Remastered” (although “Tomb Raider” is close behind), but the game itself is not distinctly different than the version you played last year on the PS3.

Yes, I believe that the remastered “TLOU” takes a great game and makes it slightly better through visual nuance and depth, but the game itself is fundamentally the same. In fact, one can count on one hand the games that were truly altered by a remastering from one generation’s console to the next. At the top of that mini-list is “Grand Theft Auto V,” one of the best games of 2013 made notably better in 2014 on the PS4 and Xbox One.

In fact, if someone of the appropriate age was buying a PS4 this holiday season and asked me which game to get first, I’d probably say “Grand Theft Auto V.” No game more completely displays the capabilities of this next-gen machine.​

Graphics Upgrade

It has arguably the best graphics in the one-year history of the PS4, offers a complete online experience through “Grand Theft Auto Online,” and illustrates how forward-thinking companies like Rockstar Games are going to drive this generation of video games by giving the player not just more than they asked for, but more than they even considered.

The first upgrade most gamers will notice when they drop into the saga of Franklin is the visual polish given to Los Santos. Everything seems to vibrate and shimmer a bit more completely. It’s most noticeable for me in the NPCs and the detailed backgrounds that are easy to take for granted. Has there been a more completely developed world than this in video game history?

When I drove to Franklin’s house for the first time in my PS4 playthrough, I overshot it and saw my neighbor standing on her porch. What was she doing? Who knows? The people of Los Santos seem to have lives distinct from whatever it is you’re doing. It’s a game in which you can get stuck in traffic, and it honestly feels like the other cars are occupied with people going about their lives.

New weather and lighting effects in the increased 1080p resolution have made an already-rich world even richer and deeper in its believability, and, therefore, its entertainment value. You could drive around Los Santos and Blaine Country for hours just looking at the scenery. And you can listen to 150 additional songs across the 17 radio stations in-game.

New Perspective

And now you could do so from a first-person perspective behind the wheel of the car. When I heard that the PS4 “GTA V” was to offer a first-person perspective, I’ll admit that I scoffed a bit at what that would really mean for the gameplay. Wow, was I wrong. First-person “GTA V” adds to the overall realism of the game, making it often terrifying.

Driving in particular is STRESSFUL, especially when you’re trying to weave through traffic to get to your destination. It reminds one how remarkably well-done the driving mechanics and physics are in “GTA,” something that’s easy to take for granted in third-person. The combat in first-person is more intense as well, as this newly-detailed world becomes more threatening when you’re literally in the shoes of some of its most violent characters.

“Grand Theft Auto Online” has been upgraded as well, including integration of the First Person mode, and import of existing players from their PS3 versions to the next-gen ones. Returning players are also given access to exclusive content. Loyalty has been rewarded. It’s not hard to stay loyal to a game like “Grand Theft Auto V.”